Shark Tale

Remember when I mentioned last week how too many movies start too early in their stories?

Well, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is here to elucidate my argument. It should begin immediately with the dive gone wrong, AKA the first scene would be on the dock, AKA the beginning of the shark attack, AKA what everyone came to see. In an age of pandering masquerading as fan service, B-movie entertainment — proof of its B-bonafides: the title! the acting! Entertainment Studios! — can cut to the chase more than other genres.

Why not set up and develop the elementary (not a pejorative in B-territory!) themes and character arcs during the hunt, through how they respond; wasting time elementarily (…yep, this one’s a pejorative) introducing the soon-to-be prey is the epitome of treading narrative water. Instead, let’s do it on the fly, er, swim. And I’m not looking for flashbacks to fill in the unnecessary backstory; the execution’s rarely good enough to make us care in any meaningful way about the transparent C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R-S. They’re nothing more than ACTORS on a SET —or, should I say, in a tank flanked by green-screens? — in a battle to the death against motherfucking sharks, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As for the actors: a group of ingénues cannot match Mandy Moore’s wattage. Given the material’s character-building deficiencies, stardom — specifically, our pre-existing relationship to their persona — is key to engaging with the underwritten roles. Unless you find the next big thing — unlikely, given, um, everything about this — we’ll care less about “(cheaper) fresh face” vs. Jaws” than “Mandy Moore vs. Jaws” (I love him, but Aidan doesn’t count as a name, sorry).

Which is a bummer, because the setting here is a clever change of scenery, swapping out the usual open seas for a plunge into caves filled with ancient ruins (the latter of which remind us that sharks are PREHISTORIC MONSTERS WHO CAN LIVE HUNDREDS OF YEARS IN THE DISMALEST CONDITIONS!!!). It’s like The Descent, under water, with apex predators. And once the premise kicks in, when the going gets tough, this stuff gets going. The faucet’s turned all the way the fuck on, and the set pieces don’t stop flowing, fast and furious.

If only this franchise becomes as prolific as those alliterative Fs. You may be inclined to call it the 47 Meters Down series, BUT…how they gonna sequelize 47 Meters Down and NOT go with 94 Meters Down?? AND NO ONE EXPLICITLY STATES, IN DIALOGUE, THAT THE CAVES ARE…47/94 METERS DOWN?!?!?!

Hopefully the powers-that-be rectify these grievous, egregious oversights for 147 Meters Down, because I’ll happily watch these movies until the end of time.

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